The American Bear

Sunshine/Lollipops

Obama Administration, Congress Intensify Opposition To Global Generic Drug Industry

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration and members of Congress are pressing India to curb its generic medication industry. The move comes at the behest of U.S. pharmaceutical companies, which have drowned out warnings from public health experts that inexpensive drugs from India are essential to providing life-saving treatments around the world.

Low-cost generics from India have dramatically lowered medical costs in developing countries and proved critical to global AIDS relief programs; about 98 percent of the drugs purchased by President George W. Bush’s landmark PEPFAR AIDS relief program are generics from India. Before Indian companies rolled out generic versions priced at $1 a day, AIDS medication cost about $10,000 per person per year.

But India’s generic industry has also cut into profits for Pfizer and other U.S. and European drug companies. In response, these companies have sought to impose aggressive patenting and intellectual property standards in India, measures that would grant the firms monopoly pricing power over new drugs and lock out generics producers. [continue]

Post Says Drug Companies Will Try to Use Economic Power to Retaliate Over Indian Patent Ruling | Dean Baker

The Post told readers that drug companies would try to punish India for a Supreme Court ruling that denied Novartis, a Swiss drug company, a patent for its cancer drug Glivec. The court determined that the drug involved only a minor modification of an earlier invention and therefore was not entitled to a patent monopoly. As a result generic producers in India are able to produce and sell the drug for less than one-tenth its patent protected price.

In discussing the implications of the decision the piece told readers:

“Many international drug companies have said that the Novartis trial was crucial to addressing the rapidly growing perception around the world that India’s patent protection system for drugs is weak. Such perceptions, many patent advocates say, will adversely affect foreign investment in India, especially by global drug companies that are eyeing the huge market in this nation of 1.2 billion people.”

There is no economic reason that this court decision would affect the drug industry’s investment at all. Drug companies will get the exact same patent protection for their drugs in India and every other country in the world regardless of where they conduct their research. If India was the most profitable place for a drug company to conduct its research before this patent decision then it is still the most profitable place for a drug company to conduct its research.

The only basis for shifting investment would be to punish India, presumably with the hope that if enough investment shifts India may change its patent laws. This means that drug companies and their shareholders (e.g. university and foundation endowments and public sector pension funds) are foregoing profits today in the hope that they can inflict enough punishment on India to change its patent laws. That is a striking claim and the Washington Post did its readers a service by calling it to public attention, [even] if the Post may not have understood the implications of what it printed.

fucktheory:

Your Research Dollars At Work
(click)
My dear American readers: this is what’s wrong with your country, its education, its politics, and its medical-industrial complex, currently the second greatest useless drain on the American economy after the wars you people seem so invested in losing (what are you, the French? C’mon, America. You don’t go in without an exit strategy; wars are a lot like dates and on-line hookups that way).
The worst thing about this isn’t the waste of money. Or the waste of scholarly time. Or the absurd amount of money these researchers were paid to produce entirely self-evident conclusions, which are then either publicized or hidden, depending on the day’s political agenda, because folks, that’s how these government research grants work. It’s the fact that the New York Times considers it legitimate to simply report the fact that this research took years to come out, instead of raising high holy hell about it.
Folks, you only hear about a tiny fraction of the research your tax dollars produce, because, get this: before agencies like the F.D.A. and E.P.A get to announce their findings publicly, the American government kindly shares their research with big industry to see if any major donors might be inconvenienced by the conclusions of these empirical and statistical findings. If they might be, these reports are discreetly tucked away, and those millions of research dollars are just added to the national deficit.
Start demanding accountability. They’re your fucking tax dollars, not mine.

fucktheory:

Your Research Dollars At Work

(click)

My dear American readers: this is what’s wrong with your country, its education, its politics, and its medical-industrial complex, currently the second greatest useless drain on the American economy after the wars you people seem so invested in losing (what are you, the French? C’mon, America. You don’t go in without an exit strategy; wars are a lot like dates and on-line hookups that way).

The worst thing about this isn’t the waste of money. Or the waste of scholarly time. Or the absurd amount of money these researchers were paid to produce entirely self-evident conclusions, which are then either publicized or hidden, depending on the day’s political agenda, because folks, that’s how these government research grants work. It’s the fact that the New York Times considers it legitimate to simply report the fact that this research took years to come out, instead of raising high holy hell about it.

Folks, you only hear about a tiny fraction of the research your tax dollars produce, because, get this: before agencies like the F.D.A. and E.P.A get to announce their findings publicly, the American government kindly shares their research with big industry to see if any major donors might be inconvenienced by the conclusions of these empirical and statistical findings. If they might be, these reports are discreetly tucked away, and those millions of research dollars are just added to the national deficit.

Start demanding accountability. They’re your fucking tax dollars, not mine.

Are Drug-Pushing Shrinks Manufacturing a Generation of Spree-Shooters? | Joe Giambrone

Without endorsing the entire article, I will say that this section on pharmaceuticals is quite compelling:

[…] More than a little evidence suggests that antidepressant medications, prescribed by psychiatrists – who have a vested stake in the public perception of this issue – are a contributing factor in the majority of such spree massacres. The drug corporations, which produce these medications and which pay for massive advertising campaigns on TV, in newspapers, on the radio and in magazines, certainly want their friendly press outlets to come up with a different culprit. However, the lengthy list of warnings, right on the labels of these drugs, is an indication that the links are real, not very well understood, and potentially catastrophic.

Even Time Magazine reported on links between prescription drugs and violence:

Desvenlafaxine (Pristiq) … 7.9 times more likely to be associated with violence than other drugs.

Venlafaxine (Effexor) … 8.3 times…

Fluvoxamine (Luvox) … 8.4 times…

Triazolam (Halcion) … 8.7 times…

Atomoxetine (Strattera) … 9 times…

Mefoquine (Lariam) … 9.5 times…

Amphetamines: (Various) … 9.6 times…

Paroxetine (Paxil) … 10.3 times…

Fluoxetine (Prozac) … 10.9 times…

Varenicline (Chantix) … 18 times… (Time)

As Dr. Breggin calls it on his website:

“Antidepressants cause emotional anesthesia and numbing or sometimes euphoria, providing a fleeting, artificial relief from emotional suffering. … In the long run, all psychiatric drugs tend to disrupt the normal processes of feeling and thinking, rendering the individual less able to deal effectively with personal problems and with life’s challenges. They worsen the individual’s overall mental condition and produce potentially irreversible harm to the brain.”

Breggin provided expert testimony and dire warnings to a congressional committee and cautioned against dispensing antidepressants to military personnel out of a very real fear of resulting violence by well-armed troops.

Even the FDA has had to impose stronger warnings on these “medicines” over the years, in response to the real world data. The 2007 update to the “Black Box” warnings, which are mandatory and included with all antidepressants says:

“Clinical Worsening and Suicide Risk: Patients, their families, and their caregivers should be encouraged to be alert to the emergence of anxiety, agitation, panic attacks, insomnia, irritability, hostility, aggressiveness, impulsivity, akathisia (psychomotor restlessness), hypomania, mania, other unusual changes in behavior, worsening of depression, and suicidal ideation, especially early during antidepressant treatment and when the dose is adjusted up or down. Families and caregivers of patients should be advised to look for the emergence of such symptoms on a day-to-day basis, since changes may be abrupt. … Symptoms such as these may be associated with an increased risk for suicidal thinking and behavior and indicate a need for very close monitoring and possibly changes in the medication.” (FDA, emphasis added by JG)

[…] People don’t reject “treatment” as long as it’s a pill you can take, a brain fix-all. This convenience culture idea of the quick fix is what has lived on, and now psychiatric “treatment” consists primarily of trying various drugs on patients, having them report the way the drugs affected them, and then trying other drugs. Repeat ad infinitum.  This guinea pig approach to psychiatry is what I have witnessed for many years, and with a variety of different psychiatrists. They no longer seek out the underlying traumas of patients, as in the old quaint days. It is all about the drugs today, and nothing else is even discussed.

Psychiatrists are corporate America’s drug pushers. [++]

In any sensible world, when researchers are conducting trials on a new tablet for a drug company, for example, we’d expect universal contracts, making it clear that all researchers are obliged to publish their results, and that industry sponsors – which have a huge interest in positive results – must have no control over the data. But, despite everything we know about industry-funded research being systematically biased, this does not happen. In fact, the opposite is true: it is entirely normal for researchers and academics conducting industry-funded trials to sign contracts subjecting them to gagging clauses that forbid them to publish, discuss or analyse data from their trials without the permission of the funder. Ben Goldacre, The drugs don’t work: a modern medical scandal (via ronmarks)

(via ronmarks)

“The Drugs Don’t Work”: How the Medical-Industrial Complex Systematically Suppresses Negative Studies | naked capitalism

We’ve written a lot about the scientism of mainstream economics, both here and in ECONNED, and how these trappings have let the discipline continue to have a special seat at the policy table despite ample evidence of its failure. As bad as this is, it pales in comparison to the overt corruption of science at work in the drug arena. Although this issue comes to light from time to time, often in the context of litigation, the lay public is largely ignorant of how systematic and pervasive the efforts are to undermine good research practice in order to foist more, expensive, and sometimes dangerous drugs onto patients. [read on]

Bribery Special: Pfizer Paying Docs, Teva Paying Governments, Cartels Paying the Military

legalizeheroin:

image via prwatch

We’ll do this roundup style:

Pfizer:

Pfizer Inc. agreed Tuesday to pay $60 million to settle charges alleging that some of its foreign subsidiaries bribed doctors and health-care officials in order to gain regulatory approval for the company’s drugs and boost sales in those countries.

“Pfizer subsidiaries in several countries had bribery so entwined in their sales culture that they offered points and bonus programs to improperly reward foreign officials who proved to be their best customers,” said Kara Brockmeyer, who heads the SEC unit that enforces the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which makes it a crime to bribe foreign government officials.

Teva:

Israel’s Teva Pharmaceutical Industries , the world’s biggest generic-drug maker, is being investigated by the U.S. securities regulator over the company’s compliance with a U.S. law that prohibits bribery of foreign officials.

In a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission last week, Teva said it had received a subpoena dated July 9 to produce documents in connection with its business practices in Latin America.

Beltran-Levya Cartel:

Four senior Mexican army officers are facing charges from state prosecutors for alleged ties to a drug cartel. It’s the most high-profile military corruption case in the past 15 years.

Gen. Roberto Dawe Gonzalez and three retired officers, Generals Tomas Angeles Dauahare and Ricardo Escorcia and Lt. Col. Silvio Hernandez Soto, were arrested in May in connection with an investigation of the now-defunct Beltran Leyva Cartel and have been held in custody until their hearing Tuesday, when the Mexican Attorney General’s Office formally filed charges of “organized crime to further drug-trafficking” against them.

Pfizer, Teva, and the Beltranes; three peas in a pod.

(Source: legalizeheroin)

doctorswithoutborders:

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a trade agreement for which the U.S. is demanding provisions that would roll back public health safeguards. It would allow pharma companies to patent minor modifications of old medicines, potentially keeping prices high indefinitely, and delaying access to more affordable generic medicines for our patients and millions of others.

doctorswithoutborders:

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a trade agreement for which the U.S. is demanding provisions that would roll back public health safeguards. It would allow pharma companies to patent minor modifications of old medicines, potentially keeping prices high indefinitely, and delaying access to more affordable generic medicines for our patients and millions of others.

pantslessprogressive:

Drugs Found Ineffective for Veterans’ Stress

Drugs widely prescribed to treat severe post-traumatic stress symptoms for veterans are no more effective than placebos and come with serious side effects, including weight gain and fatigue, researchers reported on Tuesday.
The surprising finding, from the largest study of its kind in veterans, challenges current treatment standards so directly that it could alter practice soon, some experts said.
Ten percent to 20 percent of those who see heavy combat develop lasting symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, and about a fifth of those who get treatment receive a prescription for a so-called antipsychotic medication, according to government numbers.
The new study, published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, focused on one medication, Risperdal. But experts said that its results most likely extend to the entire class, including drugs like Seroquel, Geodon and Abilify.
[…] The use of such drugs has grown sharply over the past decade, as thousands of returning soldiers and Marines have found that their post-traumatic stress symptoms do not respond to antidepressants, the only drugs backed by scientific evidence for the disorder. [read more]

pantslessprogressive:

Drugs Found Ineffective for Veterans’ Stress

Drugs widely prescribed to treat severe post-traumatic stress symptoms for veterans are no more effective than placebos and come with serious side effects, including weight gain and fatigue, researchers reported on Tuesday.

The surprising finding, from the largest study of its kind in veterans, challenges current treatment standards so directly that it could alter practice soon, some experts said.

Ten percent to 20 percent of those who see heavy combat develop lasting symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, and about a fifth of those who get treatment receive a prescription for a so-called antipsychotic medication, according to government numbers.

The new study, published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, focused on one medication, Risperdal. But experts said that its results most likely extend to the entire class, including drugs like Seroquel, Geodon and Abilify.

[…] The use of such drugs has grown sharply over the past decade, as thousands of returning soldiers and Marines have found that their post-traumatic stress symptoms do not respond to antidepressants, the only drugs backed by scientific evidence for the disorder. [read more]

(via pantslessprogressive)

Help us ask key pharmaceutical companies to make AIDS drugs affordable

doctorswithoutborders:

If you’re on Twitter, you can RT the link above to help us ask Johnson and Johnson, Abbott, and Merck to put their patents in the Pool to increase access to HIV medicines.

The patent pool is designed to lower prices of HIV drugs and increase access to them in the developing world. With a patent pool companies are financially rewarded, and patients benefit from access to more affordable medicines. More here.

The Dems' Plan B for Medicare | Mother Jones

On Thursday, House Democrats introduced a new bill that would reduce payments to drug companies for covering low-income Americans who are enrolled in the Medicare Part D program, which was passed in 2006 to subsidize drugs for seniors. The new bill, sponsored by Reps. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), John Dingell (D-Mich.), and others, promises that it will “eliminate a sweetheart deal for brand-name drug manufacturers,” according to a news release, allowing them to charge higher rates for patients enrolled in both Medicare and Medicaid. The House Dems explain why the drug prices the government pays went up—and why the GOP is responsible:

Prior to 2006, the government received substantial rebates on drugs used by “dual eligible” Medicare and Medicaid enrollees. However, beginning in 2006, the Republicans’ Medicare Part D law eliminated these rebates, dramatically raising prices for the government and profits for manufacturers. The Part D deal resulted in a substantial drug manufacturer windfall. The bill eliminates the windfall and requires that manufacturers pay the rebates for dual eligible and low-income Part D enrollees, ensuring that taxpayers and the Medicare program do not overpay for Part D drugs.  

In other words, the 2006 Medicare Part D deal gave Big Pharma a break by forcing the government to pay higher, Medicare-level payments for prescription drugs, and Democrats now want to eliminate that deal. House Dems claim their proposal would save more than $100 billion, citing an evaluation from the Congressional Budget Office. President Obama made similar noises about saving money by forcing drug companies to take the hit, proposing earlier this year that the government negotiate directly with drug companies to set prices for drugs under Medicare.

FDA finally admits chicken meat contains cancer-causing arsenic

mourningusa:

After years of sweeping the issue under the rug and hoping no one would notice, the FDA has now finally admitted that chicken meat sold in the USA contains arsenic, a cancer-causing toxic chemical that’s fatal in high doses. But the real story is where this arsenic comes from: It’s added to the chicken feed on purpose!

Also in the story: the company that makes the arsenic-laced chicken feed is a subsidiary of Pfizer. Don’t worry, though; it’s just a smidge of arsenic.

(Source: mourningusa, via mlesblog-deactivated20120325)